Study: Frequent Cannabis Use Protective Against Metabolic Syndrome

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By Paul Armentano

NORML Deputy Director

 

Frequent cannabis use is associated with significantly lower odds of metabolic syndrome, according to findings published in the journal Psychological Medicine. Metabolic syndrome is a group of risk factors, including high blood pressure, high blood sugar, unhealthy cholesterol levels, and abdominal fat, which are linked to increased risk of

metabolic_syndrome

heart disease and adult onset diabetes, among other serious health consequences.

Australian researchers assessed the association between cannabis use and metabolic syndrome in a nationally representative random sampling of 1,813 subjects. Metabolic syndrome was identified in 63 percent of non-users (defined as no cannabis use over the past year) compared to only 43.5 percent of frequent users (defined as having used cannabis at least once per week for 52 weeks).

Authors concluded: “Participants who reported using cannabis in the previous 12 months were significantly less likely than non-users to have the metabolic syndrome. This association remained significant for frequent users … after adjustment for a range of potential confounders, including lifestyle … and sociodemographic characteristics. … [T]hese data suggest that (cannabis) may … have a cardiometabolic protective effect.”

A 2015 assessment of US cannabis consumers and non-users published in The American Journal of Medicine previously reported that those who consume cannabis are 50 percent less likely to suffer from metabolic syndrome as compared to those who do not. The findings are consistent with those of previous observational studies showing an inverse relationship between cannabis use and diabetic markers, and support population data documenting that those who use cannabis typically posses smaller waist circumference and lower body mass index as compared to abstainers.

For more information, please contact Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: paul@norml.org. Full text of the study, “Metabolic syndrome in people with a psychotic illness: is cannabis protective,” appears in Psychological Medicine.

© 2016 NORML. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

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